In a surprise move, Discovery Communications Inc. Tuesday named a broadcast
veteran -- a dark horse whose forte is scripted television -- as the new
president of its domestic-cable division.
Billy Campbell, most recently president of Miramax Television, will assume
the post of president of Discovery Networks U.S. in mid-June, overseeing the
programmer's stable of 11 cable networks. Campbell succeeds Johnathan Rodgers,
who announced his departure in March.
DCI president Judith McHale said Campbell was chosen for his management and
financial skills, as well as his 'storytelling' abilities in television -- an
attribute necessary to keep nonfiction programming entertaining.
Some industry observers had expected DCI to go in-house and name John Ford,
Discovery Networks Content Group president, to replace Rodgers.
Although Campbell, 42, just finished a big documentary project for Home Box
Office, he is an alumnus of the broadcast world like Rodgers, who had been at
CBS before joining Discovery.
Before coming to Miramax, Campbell was an executive vice president at CBS
Entertainment, where he was responsible for the development of new series such
as Everybody Loves Raymond.
Prior to CBS, Campbell was senior VP of drama development at Warner Bros.
Television, where he developed a roster of shows that included hit
He started his television career at ABC Entertainment, where he had a hand in
the production of series such as China Beach and MacGyver.
Campbell and McHale both conceded that he has relatively little experience in
nonfiction television. But Campbell noted that recently at Miramax, he
shepherded the development of Project Greenlight, a 12-part documentary
series on moviemaking that aired on HBO. Campbell produced it, along with Matt
Damon and Ben Affleck.
Campbell also did a documentary for ESPN -- a pilot for the series The
Greatest Sports Stories Never Told on Fritz Pollard, the first African
American to play in the National Football League in the 1920s.
'It all comes back to great storytelling,' he said, 'and great storytelling
is not about having huge budgets.'
Campbell will relocate to Bethesda, Md., from Los Angeles.
DCI has had a number of top executives leave in the past few years. It has
yet to name a replacement for Jana Bennett, who left as executive VP of The
Learning Channel earlier this year to rejoin the British Broadcasting